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Thu Jul 24 08:28:03 SAST 2014

Lack of funds could stymie SA's maths Olympiad

KATHARINE CHILD | 19 November, 2012 00:04
Maths

South Africa might lose the chance to host the 55th International Mathematics Olympiad in 2014, despite being the first African country to be picked to host the event.

The international competition, which is held in a different country every year, attracts more than 100 teams from across the world.

The executive director of the SA Mathematics Foundation, Professor Johann Engelbrecht, said that if the competition took place here it would be a "great investment in mathematics in South Africa".

Hosting the competition would cost between R10-million and R12-million but the foundation had secured only half that amount.

"Before the event, we will run training camps across the country and look for talent in rural areas. The build-up is significant. We will have thousands of pupils participating beforehand," said Engelbrecht.

He said hosting the competition in Africa would allow neighbouring countries that did not usually participate to do so. The government had endorsed the competition and the Department of Education would co-host it, said Engelbrecht.

He said donors, including Google, had offered sponsorships, but more was needed.

Professor John Webb, also of the SA Mathematics Foundation, said: "Following the success of the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa, I believe that, with the support of generous sponsors, the 2014 International Mathematical Olympiad can accomplish a similar achievement."

  • South Africa was ranked last of 62 countries for quality in maths and science education in a recent World Economic Forum report.

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